TEXARKANA, Texas — Built in 1930 by Dr. Garling Uriah Jamison Sr., the Jamison Building on West Third Street occupies an essential place in the business and cultural history of African Americans in Texarkana.
For decades, the unique, two-story building served as an office space for Black professionals in the city, ranging from insurance agencies to a dentistry, notaries to a beauty parlor and drug store, according to the Texas State Historical Association’s Handbook of Texas.
The Jamison Building is a Texas Historic Landmark, and it is also the topic of a 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday discussion on Zoom presented by the Texarkana Museums System.
The talk includes a showing of the Marvin Williams documentary “Jamison Building: History of an African-American Landmark,” plus a talk about the building’s significance with Cylestine Thornton, who is a Jamison family member, and Dr. Denzer Burke, who used to operate his dentistry there.
The Jamison Building was named a Texas Historic Landmark by the Texas Historical Commission.
Kelsi Brinkmeyer/Texarkana Gazette.
Burke will also talk about 1971, said the TMS board president Velvet Cool. That year the Jamison Building was still open and the TMS was founded.
“We’re going to have a spokesperson from the family, the Jamison family, Cylestine Thornton. She’s going to talk about her family’s involvement with the building, the efforts that they’ve done to preserve it, the efforts that they are undertaking to try and restore it and try and find a good use for it,” Cool said.
Burke will share his memories of the Jamison Building and its importance. Interviews of people who shared recollections of the building are included in the documentary.
With safety in this time of an ongoing pandemic in mind, the TMS decided to present the event on Zoom. “We just think that right now that’s the best option,” Cool said.
While the event is related to Black History Month celebrations through February, there’s another historical connection, too.
“Our main focus here at the museum this year is celebrating 50 years of history since we’ve turned 50,” Cool said. “We’re focusing on other organizations and things that were in existence in 1971 and connecting, sort of trying to recreate a landscape of what Texarkana was like in 1971.”
The architect’s rendering for the Jamison Building is shown. It was designed by Witt, Siebert and Halsey. (Photo courtesy Texarkana Museums System)
To that end, Cool said Burke will give insight into the Jamison then.
“That is probably about part of the heyday of what we can remember for that building. It was the downtown venue for African Americans who shopped there, go to the doctor and get their teeth worked on by Dr. Burke,” she said.
The landmark remained open until the early 1990s, Cool said. The Texas Historical Commission marker on it reads: “Designed by the Texarkana architectural firm of Witt, Seibert, and Halsey, it features an interesting and decorative use of brick. The Jamison Building became a center of economic, cultural, and social life in the city’s black community and has remained an important local landmark. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark 1983.”
African American landmarks in Texarkana will be one focus this month. Look for other TMS events soon to discuss the Orr School, the railroads and African American entertainment in 1971.
To access the Saturday presentation, attendees can click on a link that will be posted to the Museum of Regional History’s Facebook page.
“If they would like to purchase copies of Mr. Williams’ documentary, we will have those for sale at the museum as well,” Cool said.
(Admission is free. Check the Museum of Regional History page on Facebook for the Zoom link at Facebook.com/MuseumofRegionalHistory. More info: 903-793-4831.)
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